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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

Ars Historica — now in print!

I ran into some technical snags with this, but I have finally gotten Ars Historica into a print edition! You can get it through (my current recommendation for supporting independent bookstores), Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, or Amazon in the US or the UK. It joins Maps to Nowhere in the tiny but growing library of novella-sized short fiction collections on my bookshelf — my physical bookshelf, I mean — and the others will follow in due course!

MAPS TO NOWHERE now in print!

One of my projects for 2021 is to start working my way through my backlist of BVC titles and get the majority* of them into print editions. That project starts now, with Maps to Nowhere!

cover art for MAPS TO NOWHERE by Marie Brennan

It’s a slim little paperback, about the size of a novella, and you can get it now from Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, (which, btw, has become one of my favorite places to order from — it’s the latest development in supporting independent bookstores), or Amazon US or UK. (Full disclosure: I get a commission from sales through the Amazon US link. Which is nice, but did I mention I really like

The others will follow in due course — with the asterisk up above being that some titles (Never After, Monstrous Beauty) are too short for print editions, while others In London’s Shadow, The Doppelganger Omnibus) are too long. But the rest are Goldilocks-approved, and over the next year or so, I hope to roll them all out!

several bits of publishing news

Five things make a post, right?

* About two hours from when I post this, Alyc and I will be doing an event with Tubby and Coo’s, a New Orleans independent bookseller! We’ll be in conversation with fellow author Bryan Camp, and three attendees will get their very own Rook and Rose astrological chart from Alyc.

* Last summer I was a guest on the Aurora Award-winning Worldshapers podcast. One of the neat things about this podcast is that the guy who runs it, Edward Willett, edited an anthology featuring stories from the guests he had in his first year. Now he’s doing it again, with a Kickstarter to fund the second volume! I’m on deck to provide a story for that, and I’ve also offered some fun goodies in the rewards: signed copies of The Mask of Mirrors, ebooks of Maps to Nowhere, and even some photographic prints.

* The reason I was on Worldshapers last year was because of Driftwood, which is my segue to the next item: my publisher, Tachyon, has teamed up with Humble Bundle and the Carl Brandon Society to offer a truly massive superbundle of Tachyon titles, Driftwood included. The bundle as a whole has a value of $441, and you can get all the levels for just $28. Proceeds support the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Carl Brandon Society, the latter of which helps support readers and writers of color in speculative fiction.

* Publication news! I crowed here when I sold a story to F&SF (after nineteen years of trying); now I can hold the proof of my success in my hands. ๐Ÿ˜€ They’re having some website problems right now that mean there’s no direct way to buy a physical copy, but ebooks can be gotten through Weightless Books, or you can subscribe here.

* And finally, one of my horror-style flash fairy tale retellings, “The Snow-White Heart,” has been reprinted in Frozen Wavelets! This and its fellow tale “Waiting for Beauty” are among my most-reprinted pieces, which is funny because I don’t generally think of myself as someone who writes horror . . .

I think that’s it for now. But my brain is like a sieve lately, so who knows. ๐Ÿ˜›

all the audio that’s fit to hear

I’ve managed to accumulate a small pile of audio news for y’all!

The big one is that at long last, the Onyx Court series is getting an audio treatment, courtesy of Blackstone Audio. Midnight Never Come came out last week; you can pick up that one from Apple or from Audible. The rest of the series will follow in due course!

I’ve also been doing a pile of audio stuff with Serial Box, starting last year. So far they’ve put up ten of my short stories and novelettes: “Daughter of Necessity,” “Coyotaje,” “Love, Cayce,” “Once a Goddess,” “The Genius Prize,” “At the Sign of the Crow and Quill,” “Mad Maudlin,” “A Mask of Flesh,” “What Still Abides,” and “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood.” But the big news here is that they’re going to do some of my novellas, as well! Deeds of Men was already done as an audiobook some years ago, and I don’t hold the rights for The Eternal Knot, but they’ll be recording audio versions of Dancing the Warrior and the two Varekai novellas, Cold-Forged Flame and Lightning in the Blood. I’ll announce those here once they’re done!

A quick look back

Next year is going to involve more stuff of mine being published in the first two months than I had in the entirety of 2020, but sometimes that’s the way the publication schedule cookie crumbles.

I did, however, publish things this year! Two short stories:

  • “Cruel Sisters” at Daily Science Fiction (wherein I deal with a continuity error in a folksong), and
  • “The City of the Tree” at Uncanny Magazine (wherein I explore a different corner of the world of the Varekai novellas).

Book-wise, I put out Driftwood, which, if not one of the best things I’ve done (and it’s gotten enough rave reception in different places that it might well be up there), is certainly the most timely: this is, after all, the book Publishers Weekly described as “hope in the face of apocalypse.” May it continue to bring light where it is needed — as it likely will be for some time.

Come on, 2021. You will not solve all our woes on January 1st — one at least will need to wait for the 20th — but may you at least be a path up out of the underworld.

2020 in review; 2021 ahead

I’m not going to attempt to recap 2020 generally — we all know what it’s looked like, and mostly the answer is “on fire, literally and figuratively.” But last year I made a post about my writing resolution for the upcoming twelve months, and it’s got me thinking about the last several years.

In 2017 I wrote three short stories that weren’t for L5R, all three of them solicited for anthologies (though one of the three anthos folded after my story was drafted). That was . . . not super productive. So in 2018 I set myself the goal of writing six, one every two months — again, not counting L5R work, since the goal here was to start actually submitting short fiction again. I managed five, which was at least an increase over the previous year, though two of those five were for anthologies (one of which again folded). In 2019 I decided to aim for the same target again, and thanks to some unforeseen angst over whether I could let myself count flash — a thing I hadn’t written in ages, but apparently my brain found that gear again — I wound up with nine stories, six of them full-length, three of them flash.

But for 2020, I changed my goals. See, I had a feeling that politics was going to trash my ability to concentrate, so between that and the novel work I was contracted for, I felt it was better to scale my expectations down. Three short stories only, and hopefully three specific ones that would help me finish off some collections.

. . . I wrote twelve.

Nine full-length stories and three flash fell out of my head this year. Not because the world was in better shape than I expected, but because there appears to have been a huge split in how people responded to 2020: either it destroyed their ability to get anything creative done, or that became their refuge from the stress. (This also seems to have been true of reading.) I apparently fell into the latter camp, with the result that this has been my most productive short fiction year since . . . <checks records> . . . 2004. That year I wrote a whopping twenty-four pieces — but eighteen of those were flash; the total wordcount was nearly 8K less than this year’s.

(Oh, and also two novels. Admittedly Alyc and I wrote a quarter of the second Rook and Rose book last year — but even if I count only half of the part we wrote this year, that’s still 75K. Which is not all that much shorter than Night Parade in its entirety.)

(And also my Patreon, which is like 60K+ every single year.)

Weirdly, my productivity has actually become kind of a problem. I am literally writing short fiction faster than anybody’s buying it, and at this point the submissions pipeline is saturated. I’ve got three drafts I haven’t even tried to revise, because there’s nowhere for me to send them. Even if I thought I could top this year’s achievement, what would be the point?

So my goals for 2021 are winding up about the same as last year’s, only for totally different reasons. I owe a long short story or (more likely) a novelette to an anthology; I have those three drafts that need revision. There are two stories it would be nice to write, one of which is left over from my 2020 hit list (the other two got written), but I’m not going to push.

Of course, I didn’t mean to push this year, either. So who knows what will happen.

Who left this thing on?

Going into 2020, I set myself a lower goal for short stories than before, because I suspected the election might cut into my creative energy. (Hah, what an innocent lamb I was.) But when I decided to participate in the Clarion West write-a-thon — you can still sponsor me, by the way! — I included among my goals “finish two short stories,” because I didn’t want to lose momentum on those entirely. I chose my phrasing on purpose: finish two short stories. I had one partially written, and another which in theory is done, but the first draft is so meh that it needs a white-page rewrite anyway.

Right now I’ve got three finished stories, none of which are those two. Also a semi-outline for a fourth, and a nascent concept for a fifth.

It feels like the valve labeled “Short Fiction” has somehow gotten jammed in the “open” position. It started in early June, when I went to add an idea to my file of short story concepts, and my eye happened to fall on one I’d completely forgotten about. A quick dash of research later, I had a story.

Then I turned my attention to an idea that’s been in my head for over a decade, ever since I ran the Changeling game that gave rise to the Onyx Court novels. The big stumbling block on it — as with many of my short story ideas these days, honestly — was the research; I needed to find a suitable book or two to read before I could write it. But I figured, hey, I might as well look for such a book, right? Well, I found something . . . and then I read it . . .

. . . and I was halfway through a draft when a different short story idea mugged me out of nowhere, in response to an anthology call. And let me be clear: that isn’t how this usually works. I’ve written to themes when actively solicited for an anthology, but my brain is not very good at coughing up themed ideas the rest of the time; it would rather work on the two dozen ideas already in existence. In this case, though, the theme touches on a different bit from that Changeling game — something I never brought up in the Onyx Court books, but which I’d always figured was true somewhere off in the background.

Roughly twenty-four hours after reading that anthology call, I had a draft. A couple of days after that, I went back and finished the other story I’d been working on.

Oh, and that “semi-outline” for a fourth story is entirely the product of me being in the shower and then suddenly BOOM, a three-word elevator pitch grew into scenes and a conflict and I could pretty much write this one as soon as I nail down the specifics.

So yeah. I now have “999 Swords,” “Oak Apple Night,” and “This Living Hand.” (Internet cookies to anybody who can identify what those titles refer to!) I have written my first new Onyx Court fiction since “To Rise No More” in 2013, and I’ve ordered a book that might help me nudge another one toward the finish line. Not to mention that I still have those two things that are what I expected to be working on during the write-a-thon, which I can probably finish this month.

I’m not sure what’s happened, but I like it.

Down a Street That Wasn’t There . . .

cover art for DOWN A STREET THAT WASN'T THERE by Marie Brennan

Hard on the heels of announcing the (extremely belated) pre-order window, I now announce the publication of Down a Street That Wasn’t There! Another novella-sized collection of my short fiction (joining the ranks of Ars Historica, Maps to Nowhere, and The Nine Lands), this one collects my urban fantasy to date. You can buy it from Book View Cafe (the publisher), Barnes and Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon US or UK.

But I want to reiterate what I said before: if you have not yet donated to some organization fighting for racial justice and an end to the rampant police brutality in the United States (or elsewhere), then please take the money you would have spent on this book — or more! — and do that first. I don’t want to think anybody bought my collection instead of doing that. Both is fine! Both is excellent! But if your finances are tight enough that it’s a choice between one or the other, pick that one. It matters far more.

Does it still count as “pre”-ordering?

I’ve set this up very much at the last minute — as in, it’s coming out Tuesday. But I’m putting out a new short story collection! Down a Street That Wasn’t There pulls together my urban fantasy to date — seven stories set in the real world or something very close to it.

Here’s the thing, though. I scheduled this before the most recent round of inexcusable police brutality took over the news (where it well deserves to be), and . . . I feel weird saying “hey, buy a thing from me!” when there are much more urgent needs out there. So let me say this: if you have already donated to a bail fund or Black Lives Matter or the ACLU or some other organization fighting for badly-needed justice, or if you’ve made purchases to support some local Black-owned businesses, and you want to pick up this collection, then thank you. But if you haven’t, I ask you to instead spend that money where it will do more good. I could say “all proceeds for now will go to X charity,” and there’s a sense in which that will be true, because my household’s been making a lot of donations lately and isn’t done yet. There are two reasons I’m not framing it in those terms, though. The first is that I don’t want to feel like I’m using a good cause to promote my book — it should be the other way around. And the second is that I think it’s more valuable to encourage lots of people to interface with these organizations, to take action directly rather than indirectly (i.e. through me).

So: please put the needs of the vulnerable ahead of this book. I’m still putting it out because I don’t want to leave Book View Cafe with a hole in its publishing schedule and because even when the world is on fire, we still need stories and diversions and entertainment; in some ways we need them even more badly in such times. But I really mean it. Donate if you can.

And if you’ve already done that, well, I have a new short story collection for you!


Step beyond the ordinary . . .

Beneath the surface of our reality lies a world of magic and danger โ€” a world where buildings have guardian spirits, shapeshifting coyotes prey on the hopeful and the desperate, and ancient traditions prepare for an apocalyptic future. These seven urban fantasy tales from award-winning author Marie Brennan paint the everyday with a layer of wonder, inviting you to imagine what could lie just around the corner.

cover art for DOWN A STREET THAT WASN'T THERE by Marie Brennan

And now for something completely different

I could talk about how the Bay Area is officially going under a “shelter in place” order for the next three weeks, and the surreal sight of my local grocery store completely denuded of flour, rice, chicken, and other staples . . . but you know what? My brain is desperate for other material right now.

So! Please recommend to me what you consider to be the best recorded performances of each of Shakespeare’s plays. I do mean each: not just the ones that have been done a bunch of times, like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, but anything for which Shakespeare’s authorship is moderately certain. Cymbeline? The Winter’s Tale? Movies, TV miniseries, filmed stage performances, any of those are fine, but not adaptations that use the plot without the script (e.g. 10 Things I Hate About You).

This question brought to you by me thinking, hmmmm, I’ve written some Shakespeare fanfic for Yuletide — I wonder if I could sell some short stories in that vein? I need grist for the mill, basically.

(And feel free to pass the link to this post along to anybody who might have recommendations.)